How SMART Strategy Setting Can Help You Reach Your Health Goals
- By: PC Lupus Hope
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When it comes to wellness, many people commonly set individual health goals, such as engaging in regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, moderating alcohol intake, and following a consistent dietary supplement regimen. I had to do that after being diagnosed with lupus. It was a significant change of habits and very challenging.
Whether your health goals include improving your general well-being or achieving a specific health outcome, consistently following a wellness plan for an extended time is challenging and essential to achieving results.
Have you ever heard about a goal strategy known as SMART? It helped me a lot during my change of habits.
Developed in 1981 by George T. Doran, SMART goals criteria improve management goals and objectives overall success.
Specific: the goal targets a specific area for improvement;
Measurable: the goal quantifies or suggests an indicator of progress;
Attainable: the goal is achievable;
Realistic: the goal states which results can be realistically achieved based on resources;
Time-related: the goal specifies when the result(s) can be achieved.
Keep the SMART goals criteria in mind when working with your practitioner to develop your wellness plan:
- Narrow your goal down to one specific health factor.
Setting a goal to “improve physical fitness”, for example, maybe too vague or general. In this case, you can ask yourself “which factor of fitness is most important to me?” The response may be something like achieving a healthy weight in order to feel more comfortable or improving cardiovascular endurance to participate in a race. Use your response to this question to determine a specific area for improvement.
2. Determine how you’ll measure your progress regularly—and do it!
Measuring your progress may include:
- Using a wellness app for tracking your health behaviors and progress.
- Tracking progress manually in a calendar.
- Using a wearable device such as a step counter.
- Setting regular follow-up appointments to check in with your practitioner.
A study on long-term adherence to calcium and vitamin D supplementation evaluated the impact of a patient motivation strategy consisting of follow-up visits every six months. The results suggest that follow-up visits every six months increase adherence to the supplement regimen.
3. Consult with your integrative healthcare practitioner(s) about what is attainable.
Your healthcare team is the best resource to help you prioritize your individual needs based on their knowledge and clinical expertise. They can also advise you as to whether your health goal is achievable or should change somehow.
4. Consider whether your plan is Realistic based on your schedule and available resources.
Look at your weekly schedule and decide how much time you can dedicate to the activities involved in your health goals, such as doing groceries, preparing meals, and exercising. You may find it helpful to schedule the activity, so your dedicated time to work towards your health goal is protected if something comes up.
You may want to keep in mind the tangible things you might need, such as exercise equipment, kitchen appliances, or a membership for a program or facility such as a gym or yoga studio. If what you require is not realistic to get, you can make adjustments to your goal.
5. Remember that the Time-related aspect is only a guideline.
There may be times that you are not progressing toward your health goal as quickly as you’d like. Be compassionate with yourself and remember that even carving out five minutes to work on your plan is considered a step in the right direction.
6. Seek social support from your family members and loved ones.
Family and friends may be able to support you with your health goals by helping you stay motivated and engaged. Having social support while making dietary or lifestyle changes can also make the transition easier.
A study examined the impact of a supportive partner on adherence to a dietary supplement protocol in pregnant women. Participants in the study who had social support at home reported higher adherence support, positively associated with calcium supplementation adherence.